Final Day Live Blog – Legislative Updates for the 2014 Session

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The final hours of the 2014 legislative session are rapidly coming to a close. At midnight tonight, the gavel will be dropped and the House and Senate will adjourn Sine Die. We will keep this post continually updating throughout the day to provide you with recaps of the events taking place throughout the day. If you would like a play-by-play of events, you are also encouraged to follow us @utpolcapitol.

12:00 AM – House/Senate

Sine Die!

11:11 PM – House

SB 80, which would have provided online classes for individuals with special needs, failed to pass the House. After massive, last minute alterations of the bill, Representative Ronda Menlove (Republican – Garland), a disability lawyer, brought to question the legitimacy of the bill, citing the fact that the changes were drastic and the public was not consulted, and instead suggested the the bill should be tabled and discussed during the interim. Citing the potential costs and detriment to the teachers and students. After Menlove, several other members chimed in support of Menlove’s sentiments. Representative Brad Last (Republican – Hurricane), House sponsor the of the bill, refusing to circle, pushed the bill forward, where it dramatically failed 11-61.

10:45 PM – House

SJR 19, sponsored in the House by Representative Greg Hughes (Republican – Draper) passed the House. The resolution calls on Russia and it’s allies to respect the sovereignty of Russia. Though there was no debate, Rep Ken Ivory spoke at length on the crisis, cautioning the US to settle its large debts, lest they suffer a similar fate as the Ukrainian government.

10:30 PM – Senate

Despite minor resistance and questions from the body, HB 190, which regulates the use of breathalyzers in bars blows through the body and will now be sent to the governor. Some worried that it would be used as a tool to aid drinking games, but Senate sponsor Deidre Henderson (Republican – Spanish Fork) counters by noting that it is a tool to aid people. Senator Steve Urquhart (Republican – St. George) added that “a tool is a tool, and people can use it for good or they can use it for bad.”

10:00 PM – House

With 27 bills left in the House at the moment, the House are burning through bills left and right. We don’t expect to leave early, but we would be surprised if all the bills were not addressed in the House.

9:27 PM – Senate

Senator Karen Mayne (Democrat – Kearns) has her voter registration protection bill, SB 36, pass the Senate after a long road. Senator John Valentine (Republican – Orem) explained the bill to the body, explaining that items such as Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth are protected will no longer be released to the general public. The bill also allows people to protect their records if they feel that their is a threat with such information being released and levies fines for people who improperly use such records.

9:08 PM – House

SB 112, a bill that would originally make it a felony to run a cock fight, passed the House with an amendment. The amendment reduced the punishment from a felony to a misdemeanor. Sponsored by Representative Brian Greene (Republican – Pleasant Grove), the amendment wasn’t intended as mercy for cock fighters, but to simply reduce the prison population. Speaking for 5 minuets, Greene addressed the issue of prison population rather than cock fighting. Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper) spoke against the amendment, calling it a recap of the committee discussion. Greene equivocated cock fighting to “taking a baseball bat to your car.” After the amendment passed, Representative Johnny Anderson (Republican – Taylorsville), the bill sponsor, resigned in defeat saying that Utah will now remain the cock fighting capitol of the West. From giggles and quotes from a magazine calling Utah “a refuge for Western Cockers” to a somber summation, the bill passed.

6:05 PM – House/Senate

Senate and House break for dinner with 3 items on concurrence and 72 bills on 2nd reading (plus 1 bill circled on 3rd). On the House side, with six hours left in the session, they have 3 bills on concurrence as well and 42 bills ready for debate.

5:55 PM – Senate

Senator John Valentine (Republican – Orem) presents HB 401 just prior to the dinner break. The bill authorizes a Medicaid expansion task force. Senator Gene Davis (Democrat – Salt Lake City) wondered aloud if the task force is truly necessary as a plan appears to have been agreed upon and expressed concern that it would just keep studying the same five issues. The bill would keep said task force going under the presumption that it will be needed during a special session.

4:50 PM – House

Extensive debate over adoption laws requiring the disclosure of the intent to adopt by birth mothers to the potential father of the child. Sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson (Republican – Kaysville), who was adopted as a child and has served on the board of an adoption agency, debated with Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper) and others for 30 mins on how the bill may affect the mothers in the case of “deadbeat dads.” Wilson assured the members that, if anything, empowered mothers and ensured that fathers “want to do the right thing” had the opportunity to step up. The bill passed 52-22.

3:24 PM – Senate

Debate sparks up over an amendment to HB 243 in regards to the fund of funds – a program that was designed to bring venture capitol funds to the state. Senator Jenkins (Republican – Plain City) wants to change Senator Curt Bramble’s (Republican – Provo) bill to make the fund of funds, which is funded with tax payer dollars, to account for the jobs that are created. Bramble feels that it is more important that the company names are listed, something Jenkins resists. Bit esoteric, but, with a price tag of $225 million, it is going to get some attention. Jenkins’ amendment passes and the overall bill passes.

2:35 PM – House/Senate

After being on the floor for a short time, the House takes a second saunter for a majority leader meeting, the Senate has yet to return to the chamber. Appears that some conversations are taking place.

2:00 PM – House

Speaker Becky Lockhart gave her final press conference as speaker. In it, she made it clear that she did not regret her opening speech of the Legislative session and described the overall 2014 Legislative Session as “intense.” The speaker then went on to talk about the negotiations surrounding medicaid and her Education bill, saying that she “took a punch.” In a shift in what people were expecting, Speaker Lockhart said that while Governor Herbert could call a special session, he most likely lacked the votes to get what he wants.

12:31 PM – House 

SB97 failed to pass the House by two votes. Sponsored by Rep. Noel in the House, the leading opponent to the bill was Rep McCay who attempted to circle the bill, essentially killing it. From there a battle of amendments between those in favor of the bill and those in opposition. Taking nearly 30 mins of House time, Noel and McCay got in a bit of a vocal exchange over McCay’s intentions. McCay said that he planned on asking questions until the bill was killed or circled. After a favorable amendment was passed, Rep LaVar Christensen scoulded McCay for his overuse of House time.

12:21 PM – Senate

Quiet in the mid-morning. Little debate on issues and the body largely agreed with small amendments that took place in the House earlier in the day. Little advancement on the board numerically, however: 1 bill on concurrence, 81 on 2nd reading.

10:45 AM – House

The body concurs with Senate amendments on HB 96, a bill that will allow private dollars to fund pre-k education programs for children in low-income homes. If a program was found to be successful, the state would then reimburse the costs associated with the program.

The bill received strong resistance from conservatives, arguing that the bill would cost the state too much years down the road and would take children out of the home during their earlier formative years.

With concurrence, the bill is now headed off to the governor for his signature.

10:34 AM – House

House returns from saunter/swagger. First item of business is to concur with the Senate on HB 105, the Cannabis Oil bill that will allow children who suffer from constant seizures to take advantage of the hemp extract in order to treat their condition. The bill will now be sent to the governor for his signature.

10:20 AM – House/Senate

Update on bill movement: Senate has 2 bills tabled on 3rd reading and 85 bills on 2nd reading. House has 11 bills on concurrence and 36 bills to work through.

10:17 AM – Senate

Senate follows suit with the House and saunters (takes a break) for 10 minutes.

10:01 AM – House

Body takes the first break of the day to “swagger” (as opposed to the usual saunter) for 10 minutes to allow time for the Senate to send over items and continue business.

9:38 AM – Senate

Things relatively quiet as the Senate works through its 2nd reading calendar.

8:12 AM – House/Senate

Things get off to an exciting start in the House on this final day of the legislative session…a circle in the House. This marks the first of many motions that will take place today as lawmakers rush to meet the midnight deadline to pass their bills.

We are still waiting on the Senate to start their day.

In the Senate there are 101 House bills on 2nd reading, 2 on 3rd reading. In the House 11 bills on concurrence, 49 on 3rd reading. It is going to be a long day.

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